Clothing store owners fed up with serial burglaries

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May 31, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Some business owners in south Augusta say they are being targeted by burglars.

The break-ins are happening at urban clothing stores within close proximity of each other. The latest burglary happened last night at Jones' Urban Wear and More.

Business owners say they're planning to do something about the crime instead of being victims.

"Before we got the bars, they just came directly through the front door...and all of this was completely shattered when they came through the front door," said Denise Bedford, describing what happened during one of the four times her store, Urban Wear on Barton Chapel Road, was hit by thieves. The store was broken in a week ago, and hundreds of dollars of merchandise was stolen.

"We've now had to chain up our secure it," she said. "It's a terrible thing when you're trying to get started and you have to go through hardships like this."

And she's not the only one. Just last night, Jones' Urban Wear and More was the target. It's believed the thieves broke the glass and climbed into the store over the security bars.

Bedford says it's a store owner's worst nightmare.

"We received a phone call from that particular business owner about 2 am this morning, and of course they were very upset, and we got up and came up here to make sure everything was all right up here," she said.

Bedford says insurance will usually cover some of the damage, but the loss of merchandise has to be a certain amount...and if it's not covered, they suffer the loss. That's why a few of the businesses are getting together to look out for one another.

"We're all definitely partnering up looking out for each other," Bedford said. "This has got to stop....It's hard. We hadn't been in business a year and to have stuff like this happen, it's just a terrible thing. It's a terrible thing when young African Americans are trying to establish business here in our neighborhood and then we've got suffer such tragedies like this."

Bedford says they could have opened their business anywhere, but chose to stay near home. She has this message to whoever is breaking in and stealing from them:

"Plain and simple: stop. We are trying to provide a service here in our own neighborhood for our people who live in this neighborhood," she said. "All I can say is whoever is doing this, stop. You're making it hard for us and everybody in the community."

There have been other burglaries in the area too, but this is the fifth time the other store we mentioned, Jones' Urban Wear and More, has been burglarized. They've only been in business for two months.

There is a cash reward being offered for any information leading to arrests.

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